Stars, studs and duds: 'Unbelievable' for Thomas to be among Celtics greats

Stars, studs and duds: 'Unbelievable' for Thomas to be among Celtics greats

BOSTON –  Isaiah Thomas has had some impressive stretches of play this season, but what he did in the month of January ranks right up there with some of the greatest Celtics who have ever played.

Thomas had a game-high 41 points in Boston’s 113-109 win over Detroit, which brought his scoring average for the month of January up to 32.9 points per game.

Had Thomas scored one more point this month, he would have joined Larry Bird and Paul Pierce as the only Celtics to average 33 points in one month.

After the game, Thomas acknowledged that he knew he was close but added he wasn’t aiming to score 42 points on Monday.

“I was close, but I wasn’t trying,” he said. “I was just trying to do what my team needed me to do.”

 That said, Thomas acknowledged how surreal it is that he has played at a level that ranks right up there with some of the greatest players for one of the most storied franchises in NBA history.

“That doesn’t even seem real,” Thomas said. “That doesn’t sound real. So many great players who did it before me, to have my name up there with those legends is like … it’s unbelievable. I’m going to keep trying to catch those guys, and keep winning.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.



Isaiah Thomas

When the game was on the line, Thomas squashed any hopes Detroit had of making a last-second comeback. Thomas led all scorers with 41 points, 24 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Andre Drummond

The Celtics had no answer for Drummond most of the night as he had his way around the rim regardless of who Boston had on him defensively. He finished with a massive double-double of 28 points and 22 rebounds along with three assists and two blocked shots.



Jae Crowder

The way Crowder has shot the ball lately, he may soon enter the conversation for the league’s Most Improved Player award. He had 21 points on Monday, shooting 6-for-12 from the field and 4-for-6 on 3’s in addition to grabbing eight rebounds.

Ish Smith

I don’t get why this kid doesn’t play more for Detroit. It seems every time he gets on the floor, he makes the most of his minutes. Smith had 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting while logging just over 19 minutes.

Al Horford

After missing the last two games with a groin injury, Horford returned to action and delivered a solid performance. He finished with 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting to go with six rebounds and six assists along with tallying a pair of blocked shots.

Marcus Smart

His defense and ability to provide another post-game threat were important factors in Boston getting a hard-earned win. Smart had 13 points and eight assists along with grabbing  five rebounds.



Detroit’s 3-point shooting

We know this is not one of their strengths as a team, but the way they shot it from 3-point range was horrible regardless of how you look at it.  The Pistons came into the game ranked 26th in the league in 3-point shooting. They might drop a spot or two after missing 24 of their 27 three-point attempts on Monday.

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

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Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

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